Rockingham II: Bill Elliott preview

RUNNING AT ROCKINGHAM "I don't mind Rockingham. We should be better than we were earlier this year. This team has had some decent runs in the past here. You've got to take care of your tires and have a well balanced race car. A little bit of...


"I don't mind Rockingham. We should be better than we were earlier this year. This team has had some decent runs in the past here. You've got to take care of your tires and have a well balanced race car. A little bit of luck never hurts either."


"It seems like it's key every week. We had some two tire stops last week that gave us a little bit of position, but I'm telling you, it's tough out there. That's why there's a definite advantage to getting off pit road fast. Our guys have been doing a great job though. I think they've won that pit crew competition (the McDonald's pit crew challenge) like seven times this year. They never get enough credit but I'm telling you, without good pit stops it'll cost you out there."


"We've got to worry about finishing races. You can't worry about the points. If you do, then you'll take yourself right out of it. We've got our momentum going and we need to keep it up to finish out the season. When it's all said and done, if we're in the top 10 that's great. If not, then we know that we did all that we could do. It's close right now, but we still have two races left and a lot can happen."


The No. 9 Dodge Squad has participated in the Union 76 pit crew challenge since the inception of Evernham Motorsports. They have finished in the top 10 every year. In 2001, the team finished fourth with a time of 19.037 and in 2002 they finished seventh with a time of 19.457.

Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 54. The chassis has been raced three times, finishing fifth at Darlington (b), 14th at Dover (b) (where it ran in the top five for most of the day) and fourth at Charlotte (b).



Sunday's race will mark Elliott's 48th career start at Rockingham. Elliott has earned three wins, two poles, 11 top-fives and 20 top-10s at the Rock.


Elliott's first Winston Cup start came at The Rock on February 29, 1976. Elliott qualified 34th and finished 33rd in his first event, earning a $640 paycheck in the Carolina 500.


Elliott's most recent victory at Rockingham came in the spring race of 1992 - his 25th visit to the track and 35th career victory. He also earned victories in 1984(b) and 1987(b). Elliott earned both of his pole positions at Rockingham in 1988.


Bill Elliott's fourth-place run at Atlanta was his eighth top-five finish of 2003 and his fifth in a span of nine races. Prior to 2003, Elliott had earned eight or more top-fives in 10 seasons throughout his career (1982-90, 1992). His average final ranking in those years is third (not including 1982, in which he only ran a partial schedule.)


Elliott led 115 of the 267 laps raced at Kansas this year, the first time that he has led the most laps in a race since Indianapolis in August 2002.


After notching a top-15 run at Phoenix, Elliott maintained his hold on the top-10 in the Winston Cup drivers points race. He loses a spot, falling to 10th, but is just 17 points out of the next position and 89 points out of the eighth spot.


Elliott started February's Subway 400 in the fifth spot after setting a blistering qualifying lap of 23.710 seconds. The No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge moved from fifth to third after the race's first lap. As the race's first caution came out on lap 47, Elliott reported to team director Mike Ford that his No. 9 Dodge was handling pretty well. The Dodge Squad gave Elliott a quick pit stop of four tires and fuel, and allowed the No. 9 car to resume the race in second place. Elliott ran within the top-five for the next 20 laps, however a miscue during a pit stop under the race's third caution took Elliott out of the top-10 on lap 110. As the racetrack surface began to collect more rubber, the No. 9 Dodge became increasingly difficult for Elliott to turn. After Elliott fell one lap behind the leader midway through the race, the No. 9 team made air pressure, wedge and shock adjustments throughout the remainder of the day in order to give Elliott more grip on the racetrack. The native of Dawsonville, Ga., finished the day in 32nd place - three laps down from the leader.


Last weekend at Phoenix, Elliott started 18th and patiently worked on the handling of his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge throughout Sunday's 312-lap event. Mike Ford used a variety of calls throughout the day to improve the handling of Elliott Dodge. The team fought to gain track position, using two-tire stops when possible. On lap 260, Elliott rode just inside the top-20. He continued to work through the field in the ensuing laps and managed to maneuver into the top-15 with a little more than 25 laps to go. He battled other hard charging cars in the closing laps but held onto his top-15 run, finishing 14th. Elliott brought home his seventh top-15 finish in as many races and the 10th consecutive top-15 finish for a red Dodge from Evernham Motorsports.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott